Making New Media Make Sense

Interpersonal communication has evolved over the years and communication technologies have become more advanced in our society. The telegraph was the first tool, which communication was mediated and not face-to-face, but it lacked speed, which today is something we need. I intern in NYC for a Marketing firm that has over 100 employees and throughout the day my supervisors email me tasks that need to be done when I am only a few feet away from them. We have transformed as a society to be dependent on technology to communicate and have lost some of the traditional forms of communicating, but that is not to say that I am not grateful for all these new tools available to us.

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Bayum’s excerpt from his book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, was very intriguing to me because he focused on logically explaining how digital media affects our interpersonal lives, in particular the Internet and phones in personal relationships.  We do not live in a black and white world anymore, there is a lot of grey and many questions are not an easy yes or no. Bayum raises a few important questions like, “ How can we be present yet also absent? How can we have so much control yet lose so much freedom? What does it even mean to be real?” (2010, pg.3). Our world is now split into a physical world and a virtual world, which is why these questions are essential in understanding how to go about our daily lives.  What does “real” mean today? Some may think that their avatars in Second Life are real because of certain characteristics but some may disagree. Also, it is very possible to be physically in one space, and yet mentally and emotionally in another because of the different digital media we are exposed to. Ones digital self may in fact possess certain qualities that the physical self does, but often times I believe that when people use their screen to communicate and interact with others, there is some room for deception in that ones “true” self is different from the digital self. “The separation of presence from communication offers us more control over our social worlds yet simultaneously subjects us to new forms of control, surveillance, and constraint (Bayum 2010, pg.4). Imagination is key to being unique and creative in this world, but imagination may also have the mind wandering and not knowing which world they want to live in.

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After reading these articles, I realized how naïve I am when it comes to the Internet. Before this class, I never knew Second Life existed, and after enrolling in SL I did some research and was surprised to learn that sex was a big part of this virtual world, not only in SL but in many other virtual games as well. I am still trying to “make new media make sense” and understand the different forms of mediated communication.

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